What Does Recovery from an Eating Disorder Mean to You?

October 3, 2022 Emma Parten

My birthday is coming up this week, and I've been writing and reflecting in preparation for it. When I reflect on my last year, so much change has happened, but those changes aren't obvious or visible from the outside. This is the reality of going through recovery from eating disorders like binge eating disorder (BED). There are so many emotions, habits, thought patterns, and behaviors to change, and these massive internal changes aren't easy to see from the outside. 

So here are my questions for you as the seasons shift and we acknowledge the changes that we have gone through — what does recovery from an eating disorder mean to you? When you read the word "recovery," what do you imagine in your mind's eye?  When you imagine yourself recovering from BED, what do you hope for? 

Decide What Eating Disorder Recovery Means and What You Want

When we are wading through recovery and trying to change the cycle of binge eating, it is too easy to focus completely on what we don't want

I remember every time, the morning after a binge; I'd think, "I never want to feel this way again." Even now, I'm hard on myself about nighttime snacking because it feels too close to binge eating. I tell myself things like, "No more sugar. I don't want to overeat before bed. I don't want to feel gross in the morning."

All the thoughts I'd replay in my mind were focused on what I hated and what I did not want. Naturally, focusing on what I didn't want made me feel frustrated, depressed, and helpless. Those feelings tend to surface when you only focus on what you don't want in your life.

I have more power in recovery when I define and focus on what I do want. I want to feel energized when I wake up in the morning. I want to spend my energy on the things that I love to do. I want to feel gratitude for my body. The wants I have motivate me and give me something positive to look forward to in recovery instead of constantly punishing myself for not being perfect.

Tips for Clarifying What You Want Eating Disorder Recovery to Mean for You

Instead of fixating on things we don't want and picking ourselves apart, it is so much more helpful to figure out what exactly we do want. That's why it's essential to define what eating disorder recovery means for you. What do you want to feel like? What do you want more of in your life? What do you want to spend your energy on?

I'll be honest; I shy away from journaling and responding to questions like these because they are direct, which makes it difficult to lie or ignore our needs and wants. Sometimes it's painful to admit what I want because I'm afraid I won't follow through or live up to what I hope for. It's okay to feel discomfort in the process of discovering your answers. That is part of the process.

I can acknowledge today, I've made progress in my journey. Eating disorder recovery, for me, means a sense of peace and appreciation when I see my body. Recovery means that I have more mental and physical energy to focus my attention on making my dreams happen.

I hope you will spend a pinch of time thinking about these questions and clarifying what recovery means for you. We can't know what we're aiming for if we have not made the destination clear. 

I believe the essential recovery progress is felt and not seen. In this month's video, I share my thoughts on how to measure progress during recovery.

What does eating disorder recovery mean to you? I'd love to read your thoughts in the comments.

APA Reference
Parten, E. (2022, October 3). What Does Recovery from an Eating Disorder Mean to You?, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, June 14 from

Author: Emma Parten

Connect with Emma on her personal blog.

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